Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Flying and Dying Ship Skins – The Good, the Bad, and the Makes-No-Sense

It has been over a month since the new ship skin pilot program was released. I'm a huge fan of this project and want to see it succeed. Thus far though, the program is a mixed bag, with some implementation quite good, some of it bad, and some of it making no sense at all. I was particularly looking forward to pvping in these new skins, and was not disappointed in that respect. 

Some highlights of PVP in (or against) ships in new skins include this Hyperion Aliastra Edition kill
I saw it leave station and head to a safe, so a corp-mate went to get probes. It leaves the safe, and a moment later I see mining drones on dscan. No way, too good to be true, seriously mining in a Hyp Ali edition? Sure enough, it is in a belt, and its massive 5-plate tank (lol) is no match for frosty pirates. Just a bit later, I have a nice fight with a police comet and get my first cop kill, though I think this pirate stole it.
I'm currently on a win-streak with my incursus aliastra edition (it was featured two posts ago) but I died in a fire after undocking the merlin skin. At the rate skins are being added, it is going to take me a long while to pvp (and die) in all the new skins.

The Good

By far, the star of the new ship skins is the police comet. I see more of them out in low sec than regular comets. This has a reasonable explanation, on the developers of the program seem to mostly miss at this point: Most people want the ship skins in order to add personality to the ships they fly—which means, first, they need to be fairly cheap to prevent them from merely being collectors ships, and second, the skins need to actually add personality and immersion. The police comet does this well—it is a bit expensive, at around 10-20m extra, but that is well worth the skin for the pure joy of flying around with police lights flashing, detaining criminals etc. There is a “roleplay” element, one that even non-RP players can get into.

The added personality and immersion (and luls) is why some PVPers put stuff like dancers, coffee, and drinks into their cargohold (like one of my favorite PVPers Sard Caid—http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=22838793). I personally like to add “prisoners” into my cargo—they fit the theme of being a pirate. While not available on the market, they can be found in contracts, and they are mission items, so I end up looting them occasionally when baiting mission runners.

Ideally, most players seem to want the ship skin program to reach the point where alliance logo skins become a reality. There are other ways of adding significant personality before the program reaches that point. Instead of a reddish looking “Krusual” rifter, why not a “damaged” rifter with obvious signs of wear, such as bullet holes? Or, a “damaged” rifter skin which simply makes the makes the ship permanently on fire, a graphic that is already in game with the hull damage effect? I would love to fly a flaming rifter than one with a reddish tint that means nothing to me, and this fits the theme of Minmatar ships much better than simply a red looking rifter.

The Bad and the Makes-No-Sense

So, on the other hand, all the other ship skins, while neat and pretty cool looking, don't add much personality. They just vary the paint job a bit. Some of them look awesome—like the hyperion skin—but are also expensive. And then there are the skins which simply make no sense. I'm thinking particularly of the T1 hauler skins which came as a reward for buying the fanfest HD stream. Last year, the HD stream included a choice of a new pirate rookie ship—some of the coolest ships ever put into the game. Relatively rare skip skins for T1 haulers, though, make no sense to me. At most, they will be collectors items. Some will be used to hauler a few hundred million isk in cargo or more, and will be suicide ganked. Perhaps if they were very inexpensive—only a million isk or so, for instance—they would be widely used, but as is, they seem to miss the point of the ship skin program altogether, which shouldn't be to merely add collectors ships. The ship skins session at fanfest, covered at Jester's Trek briefly here, gives me hope that the project will continue on, hopefully in a good direction.

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